Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Boundaries on Planet Earth

© Copyright 2010 by Ted Grussing

On Tuesday, January 5, 2010 my friend, Ted Grussing took to the air from the Sedona, Arizona airport and flew over Marble Canyon/Grand Canyon and the lava flow from SP Crater, one of several cinder cones in the area of the San Francisco Peaks volcano field, about 25 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. A cinder cone is a steep conical hill of volcanic fragments that accumulate around and downwind from a volcanic vent. The SP crater is said to have erupted 71,000 years ago. The lava field that flowed from the cone extends out more than four miles. The SP crater is approximately 800 feet tall and has a 400 foot deep crater. According to geologists, several of the cinder cones surrounding SP Crater are even older, indicated by the erosion they show.

© Copyright 2010 by Ted Grussing

In 1969, President Johnson made Marble Canyon a National Monument. The Grand Canyon was designated a Forest Reserve in 1893, and named a National Monument in1908, and in 1919 it became a National Park. Then in 1975 Marble Canyon became part of the Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon National Park covers 1,218,375 acres. The Canyon, deeply cut by the Colorado River, is immense, averaging 4,000 feet deep for its entire 277 miles. It is 6,000 feet deep at its deepest point and 15 miles at its widest. The South Rim is 7000 feet above sea level, which means snow in winter and cool nights even in summer. Summer temperatures along the Colorado River at the Canyon bottom can reach 120º F., and the North Rim is 8000 feet above sea level and can receive snow a good part of the year.

Marble Canyon marks the western boundary of the Navajo Nation, and a few miles to the east is the Hopi Nation. Evidence of occupation of the Grand Canyon goes back more than 11,500 years, and archeologists and geologists have studied the area for decades. In 2008, archeologists excavated two sites along the Colorado River and one of the excavated sites has evidence of as many as six different human occupations over a time span of 3,500 years. The Park is also an ecological refuge, and home to numerous plant and animal species—1500 plant, 89 mammals, 47 reptile, 355 bird, 9 amphibian, and 17 fish species.

This view of the river and Canyon that Ted captured from his vantage point with his camera, shows the geological wonder that it is, even more so than standing on the rim observing from that perspective.

Ted’s flight was obviously on a beautiful day, yesterday, to have captured such sights with his camera. This is what he wrote about his photographs:

“The flight north [from Sedona Airport] to the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River and the landscapes were beyond belief with the snow highlighting variations in the texture of the earth. The water was running a beautiful turquoise blue the last several miles of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado was running green as usual; except for a portion of the river upstream from the confluence in Marble Canyon and there due to lighting conditions it was a bluish color with reddish reflections from the canyon walls in it. The shot was taken from 10,800’ over the Confluence looking upriver. The confluence is where going upstream the canyon is denominated as Marble Canyon and downstream the Grand Canyon. There are no such boundaries visible from the air and the canyons are simply one canyon broken into two for whatever reason. That is one of the beauties of flight; you get to see the earth with no boundaries or property lines of any kind; it is simply the surface of planet earth.”

“The SP photo is the polite name for a crater that geologists gave another name to. The lava flow which appears to be several hundred feet high trails from the volcanic crater base down to the lower left of the photo. You can also see the fields of volcanic craters everywhere on the landscape ahead of us. The San Francisco peaks are upper left. The air was uncommonly stable.”

Visit Ted’s website to see more of his photography.


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